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Leaked iPhone 5 case signals ‘radical’ redesign

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The relentless iPhone rumor mill cranked out another opaque morsel late this week with a series of leaked iPhone 5 case designs. (The device could also be called an iPhone 4S, or any other number of things, but we’re going to stick with iPhone 5 for simplicity’s sake.)

The first two leaks come via William Judd at UK site Mobile Fun, who received a CAD “design document” from a Chinese case manufacturer, and a case mock-up photo, both of which show a “radical evolution” of the iPhone design.

This drastic transformation includes a significantly larger screen, possibly 4 inches, up from the current 3.5-inch screen. As we’ve heard in the past, the screen extends across the entire front of the device, with little or no bezel on the sides. The top and bottom of the iPhone 5 still have bezels, though Judd says they have “been significantly reduced in size.”

As reported back in April, (and again in earlier this month) the fifth-generation iPhone will allegedly also feature a thinner, tapered “tear drop” design. This is backed up by the leaks to Mobile Fun. Judd writes that the “curvaceous” new iPhone has a backplate that “curves gently back around its edges, much like the iPhone 3G.”

The next iPhone will reportedly also do away with the physical home button and, according to Judd, replace it with a larger “touch-sensitive ovaloid area which takes up the middle half of the bottom border.” This area could also be used for multi-touch gestures, Judd suggests. The controls on the side of the device have been entirely repositioned, from the left to the right side of the device. Judd says it’s “possible” that the volume and lock buttons have been entirely replaced with touch controls.

All of this was further corroborated late yesterday by an actual leaked case, received by 9to5Mac. It’s not entirely clear that all the specs match up exactly, but they at least appear to, from what we can tell.

As always, this is entirely speculation, since Apple has not, will not, and will never answer questions about un-announced products. As Mark Gurman at 9to5Mac points out, it’s entirely possible (maybe even likely) that these Chinese-made case designs are based upon Apple prototypes — not final products — that reached the Asian manufacturing world, and have no bearing on what Apple will actually release. Regardless, all signs indicate that that release will come in September, so we’ll all just have to wait until then.